"Why resurgence of test cricket is of utmost necessity."
an article by Uday Joshi
Test cricket is the ultimate! The real 'test' of strength of the two sides.
Test cricket is the ABC of cricket. Test cricket is the gold standard. It is where one's mettle is observed, analyzed & bisected. Test cricket is the pinnacle for judging a cricketer's skill, temperament, technique, class, adaptability, ability, character, attitude & spirit just to name a few qualities. Such a century old glorious game is slowly on the brink of declination? Is it or is it not? If so, is there something we should do about it?
Every cricketing nation wants to hold that Test mace, for that they have to be on top of their game in every aspect and in every condition. The challenging thing is to perform overseas and in doing so rightly claim the no 1 spot, but over the last decade we have seen a new trend. Every team have become king in their own backyard and minnows in foreign soil except few teams like WI who have just become a by-product of t20s.
Gone are those days when we used to hear about the devastating 80s WI team and the hostile nature of their play, I personally have heard it through people on television screen talking about it by the likes of great Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Richie Benaud etc. And as decade passed away we have new set of people talking about the Australian team of the 90s & 2000s and how they had made a habit of traveling, winning & shaming the home team under any circumstances. But it has all become a part of history now.
Who would have concentration when they breath t20s and eat odis? Any cricketer who plays all 3 formats is prone to injury, lack of patience and concentration. Its because they cant adjust to 3 forms in 3 different ways and so far, test cricket is on the receiving end of it with both batsmen and bowlers failing to assess the conditions and due to lack of practice, and also failing to read the conditions and thus they end up losing in foreign soil. Many test matches now ending in 3-4 days shows the failure of borrowing of techniques of shorter formats into the longest format. Some say it makes test cricket exciting even though its only played 3-4 days but test cricket was not meant to be played like that, it was meant to stand out and to hang in there to survive and to save the team from defeat. But nowadays no one wants to go for a draw because they think its old fashioned and losing has become the new act of resilience.
In recent years, how often have we seen an innings like the one Pujara played against Aussies at Ranchi or the one that Faf du plessis played against the same opposition at Adelaide? Grinding! Isn't that what life is all about? Battling it out against the most daunting of challenges. Have players lost concentration? Do they lack patience and perseverance? Yes! With the amount of Cricket being played the majority of the test players are facing heat from the hectic schedules. Boards need to rethink about the amount of Cricket that needs to be played, obviously keeping in mind of financial set-ups.
Are we the last generation of test match lovers, well I don't think test cricket will not be played let's say 10years from now, but will that have the nerves to call it 'test', will it be able to regain it's glorious days? Certainly not. Given the amount of time we are giving it now I don't think we will be a freer as a group or society for that matter to give any prominence to it 10 years from now.
Test cricket is just like 'life': The next day of your best day in life may be the worst. Even when you consider any given day there is certain period, a certain time or a certain hour that belongs to you and you feel like the day belongs to you and only you, even though you know nothing is permanent in life and certainly a tight slap from the adversary is waiting ahead. Test cricket is similar too and true in all sense of the word 'life', for you may be having the best session of play of the entire test and enjoying being on top of the game but one momentarily lapse of concentration and you lose the entire thing.
But before we bury test cricket totally by becoming quiet as a mouse and throwing in the towel, I think the boards need to rethink about it and somehow manage to make it more accessible and as fans we need to show support to the greatest form of the greatest game in the world by turning up in pretty good numbers, but fans only turn up if there is good contest, so boards need to have some strict plans regarding the foreign tours, they should direct players to go and play some county cricket instead of arranging a t20 series. They should focus a lot on creating an atmosphere where true champions are made. Most importantly Players must respect the game because nothing can be bigger than the game itself. I believe test cricket at this very moment is suffering from lack of heroes. There is always room for improvement. Its high time we realize that.
Just a decade ago with the likes of Tendulkar, Lara, Warne and McGrath the quality of battle between 2 champions was impeccable, it was gladiatorial cricket. Sometimes people would turn up just to watch those two not that others were not great, but every team had one champion player. But when we look at today we may not find a single champion team let alone battle between 2 champions.
As the saying goes 'Practice makes man perfect' and longest format being is the one which is in need of it. Being outplayed in foreign soil regarding every team over last decade has lot to do with adapting to the conditions. When earlier people like Dravid used to play county cricket not only before they were to play in England but also to enjoy the game more, to get to know the game in every dimension possible. They did that for their sheer love for the longest format. To still improve. To get better at it. They still took time to play for a month or two in domestic cricket and county cricket considering their busy schedule. But what do nowadays players do is selling themselves for a franchise for a month or two earning some hefty sum.
Test cricket reminds me of Paulo coelho's message in his great novel The Alchemist, where he says the journey of life is more joyous, curious & pleasurable than the goal of life itself. The joy of cricket cannot be found in flashy sixes or 360° of play or watching Kohli master the chase, surely there is some joy but it's all momentarily suited but real joy lies in Kohli taking on Mitchell Johnson along with 10 other Aussies on the field and yet being able to come out on top, the joy lies in enjoying the rhythm of a fast bowler from how he prepare for his run-ups to how he delivers it and one can get it if they watch Michael holding bowl!. Joy lies in the way batsman cope-up with the pressure when all of the crowd is against him with 11 people trying to strip him of his skills and send him back in desolation and yet the batsman preparing for that situation by thinking of every which way he can stop that from happening, in that very moment itself shows the improvisatory dimension of the game and I bet no other format can boast of having such quality or any sport in the world for that matter, to say that test cricket is the most spontaneous form of cricket would be perfect.
It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary! Cricket is same too, when all the flashiness of t20 and odis are removed then most people will realize that test cricket being the most complex, is also the most simplistic form of cricket. We all watch sports, some for entertainment, some for getting thrilled, some for learning, some for money, some for analysis and some for the joy it gives to us by the manner in which it is played. I would like to say I am proud of saying that I belong to last group of people and test cricket should always be there for us for the eternal joy it gives us and that's why I would like resurgence of the purest form of Cricket.
I would like to end it by quoting coelho again: "Sometimes everything you seek is right where you started".